Why Good People Do Bad Things

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                                         Shame on You

                             nacknowledged and unprocessed shame is what causes
                      U      us to sabotage our own success, violate our own self-
                      interest, take what isn’t ours, get swept away by our old addic-
                      tions, and destroy our relationships. Self-sabotage is our way of
                      externalizing our internal shame—meaning, we unconsciously
                      do something to shame ourselves so that we can heal the inci-
                      dent that caused us to feel the shame in the first place. Another
                      way to say this is: if we don’t deal with our shame, it will deal
                      with us. If we continue to ignore or repress our shame, we will
                      express it in some self-destructive way. This is why it is vital that
                      we deal with the pain of our past, learn from it, and use it to
                      grow and to contribute to the greater whole; then, we don’t have
                      to do something to externalize that which we cannot see. When
                      we understand shame’s intrinsic value, we will see it for what it
                      is—a guide to help us understand ourselves at the deepest level,
                      heal our wounds, and deactivate our negative programming. It’s


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                           a spiritual treatment—our soul’s way of guiding us back home
                           to our authentic nature.
                              Acts of self-sabotage may seem to come out of the blue, but I
                           would argue that they are nature’s way of showing us our hidden
                           internal shame and the split inside ourselves. We might suc-
                           ceed at keeping our shame hidden for a while—until one day
                           just the right set of circumstances comes along to remind us
                           of that which we have buried deep inside. Maybe feelings of
                           failure, incompetence, and unworthiness begin to rattle our in-
                           ternal world, making us anxious, bitter, and self-doubting. Or
                           maybe our shame gets triggered as we realize that others have
                           achieved a level of fulfillment beyond our own. It may happen
                           when we reach a level of success, affluence, love, or admiration
                           that is outside our familiar comfort zone. Fearing that we will
                           no longer belong or that people will be jealous of us, or feeling
                           ashamed that we are more gifted or talented than our siblings or
                           friends, we put on the self-imposed brakes. In other words, we
                           sabotage the success that could be ours.
                              Some people use their fall from the top as evidence that they
                           are weak and flawed, or just as mediocre as the rest of us. This
                           was the case for William W., an eighteen-year-old star baseball
                           player who had just received a contract for over $3 million to
                           play for a major-league team. Less than two weeks later, he got
                           drunk, picked a fight, got arrested, and in that one act lost his
                           contract and threw away his dreams. Or take the case of the
                           young starlet who goes from being in the limelight to repeatedly
                           getting arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and
                           drugs. With a few bad choices she manages to expose her deep
                           pain and shame, proving that she is no more worthy of adoration
                           than the rest of us. No matter what the act of self-sabotage is—


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                      no matter how far the fall from the top or how big the climb out
                      of the gutter—if the pain is severe enough, we become open to
                      glimpsing the self that exists outside our ego structure. Pain and
                      shame remain the most dramatic catalysts for evoking change
                      in a human being. But to deal with our internal shame we must
                      first understand what it is and where it comes from.
                         If you have the courage to examine human mechanics, you
                      will soon realize that you possess a wider range of human quali-
                      ties than you imagine, a wider range of human behaviors than
                      you care to acknowledge. But the question arises: why do you
                      shun the whole of who you are? The answer is simple: because
                      you were trained as a young child to not be yourself. You were
                      conditioned to believe that if you came forward as your whole,
                      authentic self, expressing all parts of yourself (both light and
                      dark, good and bad), you would be shunned, rejected and
                      labeled. So before you could even write a sentence, you began
                      the painful and sorrowful process of separating from the totality
                      of your whole being, all in the name of wanting to be loved, to
                      be accepted, and to belong.
                         This is how it works: One day, I come home from work and ask
                      my warm and loving three-year-old son, “Beau, did you get your
                      hair washed?” And without a flinch he answers, “Yes, Mommy.” I
                      am relieved. As the nanny is saying good-bye and walking out the
                      door, she turns to me and says, “Oh, and he wouldn’t let me wash
                      his hair.” So here I am, standing next to what is the most precious
                      thing in the world to me and realizing he is a . . . yes, you got it . . .
                      a liar. I’m mortified. How could it be, my beautiful boy lying to
                      me? A few days go by, I ask some friends over and bring out a plate
                      of four cookies, and I ask Beau, “How many cookies do you want?”
                      And he replies, “Four,” so I know he’s . . . that’s right . . . greedy.


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                              A few weeks later, after having been in the park with him
                           for hours one day, we return home and I go into my office to
                           get some work done. Beau comes in, and I ask him, “Is it Beau
                           time, or is it Mommy time?” And with a warmhearted smile he
                           innocently blurts out, “It’s Beau time!” So I know he is . . . self-
                           ish. So here I am with a loving, kind, warm, sweet three-year-old
                           whom I love more than anything in the world, and he has already
                           shown signs of being a lying, greedy, selfish human. And I know
                           that if I’m to be a good mother, what I’m supposed to teach him
                           is that it’s not OK to be that. If I am good I will tell him, “Don’t
                           be selfish, Beau. Nobody likes selfish people”; “Don’t lie, Beau,
                           or I’ll punish you and withhold my love”; “Don’t be greedy, Beau,
                           or you won’t have any friends.” I am supposed to shame him
                           and punish him so that he hides these impulses and behaviors.
                           I am supposed to teach him that good people don’t do these
                           things. But he already has shown these qualities. He’s already
                           lied, been selfish, and been greedy. He’s already taken a toy out
                           of the hands of a little girl and shoved another toddler while rac-
                           ing to the pony ride. And again, if I’m to be a good mother, I’m
                           supposed to tell him, “Don’t be that; don’t do that!” I am torn,
                           because I know that if I shame him he will internalize one mes-
                           sage, a message I have seen thousands of people struggle with,
                           a message that I know most men and women have: There is
                           something wrong with me. I’m not OK. I’m not right. I am bad.
                              I struggled in the knowledge that if he naturally showed his
                           human impulses and I shamed him for them, he would wind up
                           with the same shame-filled internal programming as the rest of
                           us. I was horrified by this thought as I became present to why we
                           reject, suppress, hate, and are embarrassed by parts of our hu-
                           manity. Beau is no different from every other kid in his age range.


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                      He’s a normal, healthy child with normal human impulses. But
                      he is human—perfect and imperfect, just like you and me.
                         I wanted to find a way to teach Beau that there may be a time
                      when a dose of greed would help him to save money for his
                      future, or when his selfishness would allow him to set a strong
                      boundary with a schoolmate or a co-worker. I wanted him to
                      know that if an Internet predator asked for his name, it would
                      be acceptable to lie and fabricate a fake identity—maybe even
                      embellishing the lie by telling the would-be perpetrator not that
                      he is fourteen years old and home alone, but rather that he is a
                      forty-five-year-old law enforcement officer who knows who he
                      is and where he is.
                         As a mother, I want my son to understand that there is light
                      and dark, good and bad, and a curse as well as a blessing, in
                      every aspect of our humanity. And I have found no greater story
                      than one I heard from Guru Mayi, the leader of the Siddha Yoga
                      Foundation, to illustrate this point.

                           One day, the ruler of a prosperous kingdom sends for one
                           of his messengers. When he arrives the king tells him to go
                           out and find the worst thing in the entire world, and bring it
                           back within a few days. The messenger departs, and returns
                           days later, empty-handed. Puzzled, the king asks, “What
                           have you discovered? I don’t see anything.” The messenger
                           says, “Right here, Your Majesty,” and sticks out his tongue.
                           Bewildered, the king asks the young man to explain. The
                           messenger says, “My tongue is the worst thing in the world.
                           My tongue can do many horrible things. My tongue speaks
                           evil and tells lies. I can overindulge with my tongue, which
                           leaves me feeling tired and sick, and I can say things that


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                                hurt other people. My tongue is the worst thing in the
                                world.” Pleased, the king then commands the messenger to
                                go out and find him the best thing in the entire world.
                                   The messenger leaves hurriedly, and once again he comes
                                back days later with nothing in his hands. “Where is it?” the
                                king shouts out. Again, the messenger sticks out his tongue.
                                “How can this be?” the kings asks. “Explain it to me.” The
                                messenger replies, “My tongue is the best thing in the world.
                                My tongue is a messenger of love. Only with my tongue can
                                I express the overwhelming beauty of poetry. My tongue
                                teaches me refinement in tastes and guides me to choose
                                foods that will nourish my body. My tongue is the best thing
                                in the entire world because it allows me to chant the name
                                of God.”

                              From the beginning of our lives we are trained to reject and
                           suppress certain parts of who we are because we believe they
                           are bad. But the moment we close the door on one of these
                           aspects of ourselves, we set in motion the battle with our dark
                           side. Denial of self, whether through repression, suppression,
                           or rejection, is the food that sustains and nourishes our dark im-
                           pulses, which lead us to spontaneous acts of self-sabotage. We
                           are told, “Don’t be angry, don’t be selfish, and don’t be greedy!”
                           Don’t be is the message that is ingrained in us early on in life,
                           and once we have determined, out of fear and shame, the mul-
                           titude of qualities that we must reject, this internal message
                           drives our every behavior and choice.
                              Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are all running from the
                           devastating feelings of shame, humiliation, and embarrassment.
                           We go to great lengths to avoid feeling the raw pain that comes


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                      from our perception that we’re not good enough. We work hard
                      to conceal the fact that we believe we’re on the outside, sepa-
                      rate and alone due to our own perceived flaws and failings as
                      a human being. We try desperately to keep from feeling this
                      shame, which hangs like a two-ton anchor around our necks,
                      killing off our dreams, our passion, and our joy.
                         In order to break free of what theologian and psychologist
                      John Bradshaw refers to as the shame that binds us, we need
                      to distinguish healthy shame from toxic shame. Healthy shame
                      is a built-in mechanism that is designed to support us in recog-
                      nizing when we are behaving in acceptable ways and when we
                      are not. This healthy feeling of shame is like an internal barom-
                      eter that lets us know when we are operating inside our integ-
                      rity and when we have deviated from it. It acts as an alarm that
                      alerts us when we have strayed away from our highest or true
                      self and are making choices from our lower self. Healthy shame
                      produces feelings and sensations inside our bodies that help us
                      to recognize when we have gone off course. Like an internal
                      compass, healthy shame tries its best to guide us and keep us
                      moving toward our highest potential, whatever that might be. It
                      is instinctual, natural, and needed if we are to monitor our be-
                      havior. Healthy shame is built into our human operating system.
                      We’ve all experienced the feeling in our body that lets us know
                      we are doing something—or are about to do something—that
                      is inappropriate. For example, if we drink to the point where
                      we begin slurring our words at the dinner table, healthy shame
                      lets us know we are embarrassing ourselves. If we’re standing
                      too close to a friend’s husband or wearing something that is too
                      revealing, the voice of healthy shame tells us to back up or cover
                      ourselves. We are all born with this mechanism, and when we


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                           tune in to it and can distinguish it, it acts as a great supporter
                           and friend.
                              On the other hand, toxic shame is the result of our program-
                           ming. It enters our system as a negative message we internal-
                           ize from someone else or as a lie we tell ourselves. Then, like
                           mold, our toxic shame grows in the dark, hidden recesses of
                           our inner world. It becomes thick and dense, covering us like a
                           thick film, eroding our self-esteem and suffocating our sense of
                           self-worth. Each incident that made us feel ugly, less than, stu-
                           pid, or unworthy added to the growth of this toxic shame, mak-
                           ing it harder and harder for us to recognize our authentic self.
                           As we internalized more and more shame-based messages, we
                           unconsciously began to create what I call a shame body. Stored
                           within our shame body is the sum of all the negative messages
                           we received from those around us. And whether these mes-
                           sages were sent intentionally or unconsciously, they produced
                           the same result. Within our shame body exist thousands of tiny
                           wounds that all have loud voices telling us to “watch out” and
                           “be careful” because at any time those giant judges—the big
                           creatures we called adults, parents, teachers, and priests—will
                           come out against us with their swords, otherwise known as their
                           judgments. Or perhaps parents or caregivers unknowingly or
                           knowingly chiseled away at our most precious gift, the only one
                           we knew—the authentic and free expression of ourselves. They
                           ridiculed us for laughing too loudly, for playing too much, for
                           not wanting to eat all the vegetables on our plate. They teased
                           us when we were needy and made fun of us when we were
                           “scaredy-cats.” They pointed their fingers at us when we did
                           something stupid, and they hollered at us when we were about
                           to touch something that was theirs. They angrily reprimanded


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                      us or pulled our arms when we were lagging behind. They got
                      on our backs when we were happy and when we were sad, when
                      we asked for too much, or when we sulked in our rooms be-
                      cause we were deemed rotten and selfish.
                          Since we were no longer able to love ourselves as we were—
                      since we feared that our true self was really unlovable, faulty,
                      worthless, and unacceptable—we unconsciously made the
                      devastating decision that we were bad and undeserving of love,
                      care, respect, and success. All these thoughts and fears led us to
                      create the negative beliefs that are our deepest source of shame:
                      There must be something wrong with me. I am bad.
                          For most of us, the voice of “You are bad” was everywhere
                      when we were growing up—sometimes subtle, sometimes not so
                      subtle; sometimes loud, sometimes a soft whisper. But no matter
                      what the tone, these messages of shame all had the same dead-
                      ening, toxic effect. They all instilled fear in us, giving birth to our
                      shame body. Our shame body is an unconscious state of being,
                      an invisible capsule surrounding us, that is stuffed with every
                      negative message that we couldn’t understand or was too pain-
                      ful to deal with. These shame-filled messages, whether delivered
                      silently or out loud, caused us to internalize—to embody—some
                      version of this message: “There is something wrong with me. I’m
                      not a good boy or girl. . . . I’m going to get in trouble; I deserve
                      to be punished. I deserve to go without. . . . I deserve it because
                      I am bad.” Then, unknowingly, we made the commitment that
                      if someone else wasn’t battering or emotionally torturing us, we
                      would torture ourselves with our own acts of self-sabotage, be-
                      cause we believed that bad people deserve to have bad things
                      happen to them. We believed that bad people don’t deserve love
                      and happiness. Think about this: If, deep inside, you have been


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                           programmed with toxic, self-deprecating messages like these,
                           what else would you expect to unconsciously attract into your
                           life? And what’s most frightening is that because we have been
                           trained to focus on the outer world—on securing love, money,
                           success, fun, sex, or our next meal—most of us remain unaware
                           that these messages are running, day in and day out, in the back-
                           ground of our subconscious minds.

                                                       You Are Bad

                           Imagine this for a moment. The message of “You are bad” was
                           taught to you, mirrored to you (i.e., you saw it being done to
                           others around you), and imprinted on you tens of thousands of
                           times before you were even ten years old. Even if you were one
                           of the lucky few who were told constantly how great you were,
                           you still got the message if you happened to display the oppo-
                           site behavior of the one being praised. If you are human, it’s
                           inevitable that you imprinted some version of these shameful
                           messages. The admonishments were everywhere. Often with-
                           out malice we were told:

                                “Bad girl! Why did you wet your bed again?”

                                “Good girls don’t talk like that.”

                                “Good boys don’t lie.”

                                “Good girls don’t talk that loudly.”

                                “Good boys don’t interrupt.”

                                “Good children should be seen and not heard.”


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                           “Only good girls and boys get to do special things.”

                           “Bad boy! I’m taking away your teddy bear right now if you
                           don’t clean up your mess.”

                           “I don’t want to hear your whiny voice.”

                           “Don’t be a sissy.”

                           “I can’t take you anymore. Get away from me!”

                      Many of these messages were, of course, intended to help us
                      fit in, get along, and grow up to be good and proper ladies and
                      gentlemen. Nevertheless, the message “You are bad” came through
                      loud and clear.
                          If I spent a few days with you, I could fill an encyclopedia-
                      sized book with all the bad things that were said and done to
                      you—and show you how these negative emotions have become
                      ingrained in your subconscious and are directing your choices
                      and behaviors. Most of the people I have met in my life—with
                      good parents and bad—have had this message told to them in
                      one way or another, thousands and thousands of times. Whether
                      you realize it or not, you internalized these thoughts and feel-
                      ings over and over, and because of this, these negative, often
                      poisonous messages now live inside you.
                          This process didn’t happen consciously. It didn’t happen be-
                      cause you weighed the facts, thought through the opinions and
                      behaviors of those around you, or analyzed the validity of the mes-
                      sages you heard. In fact, most of what occurred and shaped your
                      life happened at a time before you had access to intellectual rea-
                      soning skills—before you could even consciously judge or assess
                      those who were delivering these messages. Still, you unknowingly


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                           assigned meaning to their words, made decisions based on their
                           actions, and allowed negative interpretations to be etched into
                           your psyche (your human software). You participated in the build-
                           ing of your shame body without even knowing it was happening.
                              Toxic shame is at the root of why we do bad things and why
                           bad things happen to us. It begins when we unknowingly inter-
                           nalize the shame of not being good enough. We internalize this
                           shame without realizing how susceptible our precious young
                           psyches are. Even if we had the best parents in the world, every
                           time we displayed one of our less attractive human behaviors,
                           every time we did not meet their standards or did something
                           that could be considered socially unacceptable, the “You are
                           bad” message was delivered, and we internalized it.

                                             Private Acts of Shame

                           None of us goes unscathed when it comes to shame. Maybe it
                           began in the privacy of your bedroom. Maybe you had a sister
                           who rubbed up against you or lured you into playing doctor, or
                           a father who visited you in the middle of the night, planning to
                           take inappropriate sexual liberties. Maybe it was a babysitter, a
                           family friend, or a mother who held you too close or an uncle
                           who ran his hands over you in a way that violated your healthy
                           boundaries. Maybe you were warned about being sexual with
                           someone in the family yet it seemed natural in the moment to
                           be kissing cousins, and so you did. Maybe you were the one
                           who convinced your young sister to take off her underpants or
                           show her private parts to your friends. Or maybe, in a quest to
                           satisfy a healthy sexual desire, you took the end of your hair-


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                      brush and stuck it inside you, or put your private parts in a place
                      they didn’t belong. In the end, your curiosity and sexual desire
                      may have been met, but your shame may have overridden the
                      few minutes of pleasure that you received, leaving an indelible
                      mark on your memory, your psyche, and your self-image.
                         Shame-filled and shameful sexual behaviors happen every day
                      in every kind of family, every class, every culture, and every eco-
                      nomic bracket. They usually happen without either party thinking
                      about the consequences of their actions. There is usually one per-
                      petrator and one victim. One person may be haunted by the act
                      for years, while another tries to pass it off as if it were no big deal.
                      But whether you are aware of it or not, if you have a conscience
                      you will store this private act of shame in your subconscious, and
                      you will more than likely use it against yourself in the future.
                         Stacey J. was raised in an emotionally chaotic environment
                      where she lived full-time with her loving but alcoholic mother
                      and rage-prone stepfather and spent weekends with her pas-
                      sive, G-rated father and devout Methodist grandmother. As an
                      eight-year-old girl, she frequently overheard her mother and
                      stepfather having sex and received a wrenching double hit of
                      shame—that she even heard them in the first place, and that
                      she was actually aroused by their sounds of pleasure. Inside her
                      unformed psyche, it was all very wrong: you’re not supposed to
                      see or hear your parents’ sexual acts, and you’re especially not
                      supposed to be turned on by them!
                         Her shame was compounded by her snooping around and ex-
                      cavating hidden issues of Playboy, Hustler, and other porn maga-
                      zines, finding nude Polaroid shots of her parents, being sexually
                      fondled by a neighbor and French-kissed by an “uncle.” With
                      increasing incidents of sexually “bad” thoughts, behaviors, and


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                           experiences, this nice, quiet, agreeable, placating little mid-
                           western girl was simmering with shame that would have to spill
                           over at some point.
                              One of those moments arrived on an overcast Sunday morn-
                           ing when she was eight years old. She had spent the weekend at
                           her grandmother’s house and somehow, miraculously, got out of
                           going to church that morning. Out of the blue—and inside a very
                           rare moment of being alone in a house without the constraints
                           of adult eyes—she found herself spontaneously and intensely
                           excited by the idea of exposing her naked butt in her grand-
                           mother’s living-room picture window. So on this day—God’s
                           day—in a neighborhood that was typically abuzz with fathers
                           mowing lawns, mothers gardening, and children playing, Stacey
                           felt the wild rush of slowly pulling her pants down and rubbing
                           her rear end against the large pane of glass. After a few minutes
                           of this, her naughty euphoria turned into one of the defining
                           moments of her childhood: her grandmother, sister, father, and
                           his girlfriend returned from church, pulling up to the curb di-
                           rectly in front of the picture window. The first person to see her
                           naked ass was, of course, her Jesus-loving grandmother.
                              What happened immediately after this incident (hiding behind
                           a door, getting her father’s belt across her bare behind, spending
                           the rest of that painfully long day banished to the guest room, and
                           having the story relayed to her mother, who could determine fur-
                           ther punishment) was nothing compared with the depths of pri-
                           vate shame she plunged herself into. From that day on, the belief
                           that she was abnormal, deviant, twisted, and irreparably flawed
                           became an integral part of the story of who she was. When she
                           was only eight years old, Stacey’s sexual shame became a bottom-
                           line issue that would end up shaping her life.


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                         After an adolescence of being sexually abused by a family mem-
                      ber and a young adulthood that included countless sexual partners
                      (usually while under the influence of alcohol and drugs) and three
                      abortions, she grew up to be a woman who is seventy pounds over-
                      weight, chronically single, and aching for the return of her sexual
                      self—all conditions about which she is deeply ashamed.

                                         Public Displays of Shame

                      We see evidence of shame all around us. Examples are splashed
                      across our magazine covers and TV screens. In our twenty-four-
                      hour-a-day news and tabloid culture, public acts of shame have
                      become commonplace.
                         We need go no further than our television sets, car radios, or
                      the checkout lane at the grocery store to see shame on parade—
                      to witness the distorted spectacle of ourselves, a ludicrous
                      exaggeration of what it looks like to fall down and be humiliated
                      in public. Courtroom TV, reality shows (especially those based
                      on competition and getting “voted off”), tabloid TV shows,
                      shock jock talk radio, and gossip rags all feed us sensational-
                      istic stories that usually have absolutely no relevance to our
                      day-to-day lives. But they do give us an unconscious outlet for
                      playing out the ravaging criticism and judgments we have about
                      our own humanity. With a foul-smelling mix of condescension,
                      contempt, ridicule, and pity, we get to say things like “What was
                      he thinking?! Spoiled brat! Serves her right! How stupid could
                      he be?! Poor thing, all that money and she’s just so out of touch
                      with reality.” We get to think to ourselves, “Sure, I may have
                      some issues, but at least I’m not that bad!” We’re voyeurs who


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                           get some relief from our own emotional pain by watching the
                           blunders of those who have had the “audacity” to step out into
                           the public eye and the downfalls of those who have stumbled
                           into the limelight. And in a media-driven consumer culture that
                           would hardly exist without shame and humiliation, the old ad-
                           vertising adage “Sex sells” could easily be replaced with “Shame
                           sells.” And it’s no surprise that shame sells, since all of us were
                           programmed with it and those messages became a part of our
                           human software.

                                          The Virus in Your Soft w are

                           Our human software runs in the forefront of our minds, telling
                           us where we can go, with whom we can go, and what is possible
                           for us when we get there. Most of us will never know ourselves
                           outside the confines of this automatic conditioning. We will
                           never know what’s possible beyond our current belief systems
                           constructed by our shame and fear. These messages are deeply
                           encoded in our psyches. They might take different forms, they
                           might sound a bit different for each of us, but the messages
                           are there. They are part of how we get socialized. If we didn’t
                           have these messages, how would we know how to behave? Can
                           you begin to grasp the implications of these sabotage-producing
                           messages that we all received? Here it is again: We are all deeply
                           wounded by our society’s socialization techniques. We are inad-
                           vertently taught that if we don’t act in particular ways, it must
                           mean that we are bad or no good. Even though we are unaware
                           of and can’t see this inner software, it is ingrained and encoded


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                                                Shame o n Yo u

                      with the messaging we received, and it’s always running in the
                      background, fueling our self-doubt and our fears.
                         We are designed to attract to ourselves what is in alignment
                      with what we believe to be true about ourselves and to push
                      away what is not, and we are masters at doing it. Every belief
                      holds a specific resonance, a vibration—and, as the saying goes,
                      like attracts like. When we are young, we believe that the whole
                      world is open to us and that we can do and be everything that
                      we desire. If we fall we can usually get right back up. We are
                      driven by the naïveté of our youth and are being pulled fearlessly
                      ahead by our deepest hopes and desires. The power of our youth
                      holds so much promise and potential that we unknowingly over-
                      ride the subconscious beliefs that have been programmed into
                      us. We haven’t yet fully bought into the belief that life might fail
                      us or that bad things may happen to us that will prevent us from
                      getting where we want to go. I would say we are still building
                      our personas. But as that power becomes overridden by years of
                      disappointment and pain, we no longer have the resources avail-
                      able to us that we did when we were young. At some point we
                      stop living inside the endless possibilities of our youth and come
                      face-to-face with our internal programming—our limited, self-
                      shaming, often self-sabotaging, disconnected self. We leave the
                      innocence of youth behind us and kick into the next stage of our
                      lives, one that demands that we begin to learn from our past,
                      examine our behaviors, and dissect our patterns so that we might
                      become fully functioning, healthy, thriving human beings.
                         Your shame may have you believe that you are bad to the
                      bone, rotten, worthless, stupid, good for nothing, foolish, mean,
                      inconsiderate, weak, out of control, a liar, or any number of


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                           things. And then you unconsciously are drawn to exactly those
                           people, circumstances, and behaviors that will reflect back to
                           you your learned beliefs about yourself. Then, once you have
                           participated unknowingly in creating outer circumstances that
                           confirm your innermost beliefs, you seal the deal by acting out
                           and proving that indeed you really are the bad one. Without any
                           clue as to what you are doing, you verify the very belief about
                           yourself that caused you the most shame and suffering.
                              Since we are always attracting what we are most committed
                           to, especially the underlying commitments of our subconscious
                           mind, we create and attract situations in our lives that reflect
                           back to us our internal beliefs, even the damaging ones loaded
                           with shame. Then, our outer circumstances—oftentimes pre-
                           cipitated by our own behavior—prove to us in various ways
                           that we really aren’t good enough, that we are bad boys and girls,
                           that we don’t deserve happiness, health, joy, and abundance.
                           Thus, we solidify and perpetuate the very lies we bought into
                           decades ago.
                              Because we are spiritual beings who can see our inner pro-
                           gramming only by looking into the outside world, we uncon-
                           sciously draw forth in the outer world circumstances to externalize
                           our inner shame; hence the birth of our own self-sabotage and
                           the excruciating and repetitive cycles of victimhood and self-
                           destruction. If we want to understand why good people do bad
                           things and why we become our own worst enemies, we must be
                           willing to acknowledge the devastating effects of our internal
                              This programming acts like an insidious computer virus
                           that can wipe out all the good in our lives. And as long as these
                           messages are silently running in the background, like a virus


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                                               Shame o n Yo u

                      in our subconscious minds, we will continue to send forth into
                      the outer world the low resonance of this corrupted message.
                      We will continue to act out or unknowingly attract to us the
                      outer expression of our internal beliefs. Even though they may
                      be deeply hidden, disguised, and suppressed so that our con-
                      scious minds are unaware they even exist, they exert a powerful
                      force that will drive us to act in ways that will bring situations
                      into our lives that seem to justify our deeply ingrained shame.
                      The mechanism of our humanity acts like a projector. When I
                      believe I’m a failure, I create and attract experiences that are
                      in complete alignment with this belief. Then one day I wake
                      up inside that reality, and I’m shocked by what is going on in
                      my life. It’s simple, really. Inherent in our programming is the
                      unique ability to experience what the mind believes to be true.
                         Our feelings of shame are the source of all forms of self-
                      sabotage and self-punishment. We do bad things and become
                      our own worst enemies because we feel bad about ourselves,
                      because we don’t feel worthy of the success, the stardom, the
                      fulfillment, the pleasure, or the love that we have or that we
                      desire. The fear that we are undeserving, that we will no longer
                      belong to the club if we have too much, or just the opposite—
                      that we won’t be loved if we have too little—drives us to sabo-
                      tage our success. It doesn’t matter which of these you feel the
                      most shame around; they are two sides of the same coin. Feeling
                      unworthy and undeserving of the good in our lives, we do some-
                      thing—consciously or unconsciously—to punish ourselves. It’s
                      part of the human experience.
                         Regardless of the facades we show the world, whether we
                      want to admit it or not, we all know we’re not perfect. We know
                      what we do behind closed doors, and we know what we’ve done


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                           in the past to others and ourselves. We know the viciousness of
                           our judgments and the harshness of our prejudices. We know
                           that underneath it all we are not that good, so we have to throw
                           in a little sabotage to remind ourselves and others that we are
                           just another imperfect human being. When we are reminded of
                           the fact that we are less fortunate, less attractive, less educated,
                           less talented, or less desirable than those around us, we punish
                           ourselves. And likewise, whenever we are confronted with the
                           fact that we have more brains, beauty, creativity, money, luck, or
                           talent than those around us and we don’t know how to process it
                           within our ego structure, we are driven to do something that will
                           bring us down. Why? Because we are ashamed, not just of the
                           bad parts of ourselves but the good as well. How crazy is this?
                           How absolutely insane is it to be a human being? Here we are,
                           scared to death of being bad and then at the same time scared to
                           death of being too great. Here we are, ashamed of what we are
                           and ashamed of what we are not. Even if we manage to create a
                           certain degree of success, love, money, adoration, and respect,
                           if we don’t heal our shame, make peace with our past, and find
                           our inherent self-worth, we will inevitably create some circum-
                           stance to punish ourselves.
                              Once you understand this, you can deactivate this program-
                           ming and will no longer have to shame yourself. To heal, you
                           have to begin by being able to distinguish this programming and
                           acknowledge its existence. It can hurt you only when it’s left
                           unattended and is lurking in the recesses of your subconscious


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